2 out of 5 stars
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heartlands This film is so gentle that it's hard to believe it comes from the same director as the spicy comedy East Is East. But it has the same observational style that captures character details, even if it gets a bit swampy along the way. Colin (Sheen) is a simple nice guy doing the best he can for his wife Sandra (Robbins) until he finds out she's having a fling with his best friend Geoff (Carter). And when Sandra and Geoff take off for a weekend in Blackpool, he jumps on his moped to get her back. Along the way he has a series of adventures, meeting an arrogant pub owner (Addy) and his tough single-mum girlfriend (Jones), a chatty Girl Guide leader (Imrie) and a helpful biker couple (Strong and Peak). All of them teach him a thing or two about the real world.

This is the kind of film that keeps us smiling, not laughing, with its wry images and touching emotions. It gets a bit much here and there, as O'Donnell goes over the edge in his efforts to tug on the heartstrings. Performances are very good, especially from Sheen, although the character is perhaps a bit too nice-but-dim to be believed. But he has a charming physical presence, especially in the film's slightly absurd moments. Meanwhile, the supporting cast all do interesting things with their characters, although none are allowed to inject badly needed energy into the film. Yes, Colin's journey is more than a little dull, mostly due to a script that tries far too hard to be quaint and sweet without ever properly focussing the characters or situations. As a result, we never really buy into it, even though we want to.

cert 12 themes, language, adult situations 29.Apr.03

dir Damien O'Donnell
scr Paul Fraser
with Michael Sheen, Jane Robbins, Jim Carter, Mark Addy, Celia Imrie, Ruth Jones, Mark Strong, Phillipa Peak, Jade Rhodes, Paul Shane, Paul Slack, Kate Rusby
release UK 2.May.03
02/UK 1h31

Find a way. Colin and Sandra (Sheen and Robbins) have a little talk...

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall